Though only one day short of the CMJ cutoff, “Conscious Coupling II” aka the Father/Daughter+Miscreant Records Showcase at Palisades offered a massive host of artists, both local and touring to Brooklyn’s Palisades. The first act of the day (night?) was punk trio Hiccup, featuring Hallie Bulleit from The Chris Gethard Show (also his wife) on bass/vocals. As the opener with a stacked bill of 13 bands, the audience was a bit sparse, but seeing the act earlier this year for The Chris Gethard Show’s premiere party at Rough Trade NYC where she lead the crowd in chant of “Eat More Butts” brought a similar level of energy, even being billed as a daytime act.
Following them were two more electronica acts, Nicholas Nicholas and Bad Cello. With a full lineup of guitar, bass, drums, keys, and vocals the group played a more laid back set. Featuring more Mac Demarco/Steely Dan-esque approach with a more easy listening vibe, the band helped segue into the more bombastic synthpop of Zeno Pittarelli aka Bad Cello. While being restricted a bit to the confines of his synthesizer setup, he leapt into the crowd for his last track.
Heading a bit more downtempo was Philly singer i tried to run away when i was 6, who with their combination of guitar/vox and bass sounded like Kimya Dawson with the sonic vibes of Girlpool. While this may have bit of a more somber point of the evening, Brooklyn quartet Downies (now called Cende) brought the beat back up with their energetic, hard-edged brand of Ramones-esque punk in almost complete contrast to the previous act.
New Brunswick’s ROMP took the stage with singer/keyboardist Madison Klarer, the full lineup gave the instrumentation a full sound, but some of the vocal strengths lacked without any harmonies. However, their full dynamic range, switching between thrashing tracks and gentler sections made them musically, one of the more interesting bands of the night, especially with lines like “I don’t wanna be anyone’s anything, anymore” on “Portrait”. With the theme of “Homecoming,” Comfy singer Connor Benincasa came decked out in the perfect “80s High School Movie Protagonist Who Saves The Rec Center and Gets The Girl” outfit, ruffles and all. With the music to match, Comfy brought plenty of vintage, dance-y vibes all around with their brand of upbeat indie rock. Side Note: Zeno Pittarelli aka Bad Cello also played drums on their first record, Pillowhugger.
New York three piece Vagabon proved themselves plenty capable musicians on-stage with vocalist/guitarist Laetitia Tamko supported by bassist Eva Lawitts and drummer Elise Okusami. While the guitar work was primarily minimal, it allowed for the band’s strengths to shine through, Tamko’s powerhouse vocals, Lawitts’ complex basslines and Okusami’s technical syncopated rhythms and tempo changes. While bassist Nicholas Cummins would return later to join PWR BTTM, Brooklyn trio Fern Mayo made the most out of a shorter set. Influenced by artists like Rilo Kiley and The Breeders, the heavy guitar-based compositions of singer/guitarist Katie Capri subvert the notion of the typical “Girl In A Band” ideal of Kim Gordon’s era and show an impeccable balance between musicianship and vocal work.
With two radically different approaches, female-fronted acts Bethlehem Steel and Diet Cig helped bring the hype for the night. The first, played from a more muted punk palette, putting instrumentation at the forefront and leaving the vocals as only a melodic complement, floating beneath the more driven beats. In contrast, Diet Cig vocalist Alex Luciano claims “I can’t play instruments very well” in a self-deprecating bit on their latest single “Sleep Talk” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a two-piece, the band makes more of an impact than more of the more expanded lineups on the bill with upwards of five members. Starting off their show with the two bouncing around to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” to yes, shake out the nerves before diving into their set, the band brought fans and friends on-stage during tracks off their EP “Overeasy” like “Scene Sick” and closing out with their major track “Harvard.” Also, definite kudos for having the raddest merch table presentation of the night (pictured below).
Even with replacing members for the show, Ohio band S P O R T S brought one of the biggest crowds of the night, with a truly devoted fanbase dedicated to their blend of uptempo, fuzzy, lo-fi alt rock. Even at moments, being able to coax Ben of PWR BTTM to appear from backstage and sing along. While seemingly unassuming, lead vocalist/guitarist Carmen Perry commanded an audience of fans cheering her name, which with her energetic and personal approach to songwriting gives her a great platform. After 12 acts, PWR BTTM finally took the stage with Ben setting up their guitar and Liv arranging their drum kit whilst dancing along to The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like.” Opening with “West Texas” off their debut LP “Ugly Cherries” the band subverted all notions of gender and sexual agency with tracks like “Dairy Queen” and their title track “Ugly Cherries.” Throwing in a new track here and there, the band seems to be taking a more subdued approach to their next release(s). When switching instruments, Ben taking the drums and Liv on guitar/vocals, the duo went into the song “Serving Goffman” (a reference to sociologist Erving Goffman) Liv explained the song as their experience of coming out as genderqueer, something the band pulls off both musically and visually. With Ben dressed in a salmon pink Homecoming dress (as well as, a Birthday sash) and Liv “serving up mom that chaperones just to hit on the jocks looks” and even Fern Mayo bassist Nicholas Cummins adorned in drag, the band brings both their blurring of sexual boundaries as well as, their top-notch musicianship to the table.
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